It’s that time again Ladies and Gentlemen, your turn to take part in the 2nd Annual Bird Cage Roster Competition. Even though the coaching staff and front office have to make the actual tough decisions, its time to agonize between what you think should happen and what will happen. We as fans aren’t privy to all the information and evaluation that goes into making the hard resolutions that will determine the final 53 man team and 8 man practice squad. The vast majority of players are locks and are no-brainers, but there will be some excruciatingly hard calls on a few players. Pore over the preseason games and training camp in general and list out who you think will be the final Falcons 53 man roster.
-Each correct player prediction receive 1 point
-Each correct player on the practice squad will receive a half point
-Rosters must be posted in The Bird Cage or sent via email by Friday @ Noon
-Winner may receive a small prize
-Welcome to give description on each player or just the roster
Quarterback (3) – Ryan, Redman, Wilson
Running Back (5) – Turner, Norwood, Snelling, Mughelli, Haynes
Wide Receiver (5) – White, Jenkins, Weems, Booker, Finneran
Tight End (3) – Gonzalez, Peele, Zinger
Offensive Line (9)
Baker, Blalock, McClure, Dahl, Clabo, Reynolds, Svitek, Ojinnaka, Romberg
Defensive Line (9)
Abraham, Biermann, Anderson, Davis, Jerry, Babineaux, Lewis, Johnson, Sidbury
Linebackers (6) – Lofton, Peterson, Nicholas, Adkins, Wire, Gilbert
Safeties (4) – Coleman, DeCoud, Moore, Harris
Cornerbacks (6) – Grimes, Owens, Houston, Jackson, Williams, Hill
Special Teams (3) – Koenen, Elam, Schneck
Players that have played in 9 regular season games or more are not eligible for practice squad and any single player cannot remain on the practice squad for more than 2 years.
1) Matt Ryan – Franchise starting quarterback who needs to be more consistent.
2) Chris Redman – Deeply entrenched backup quarterback who got a new deal before becoming a free agent. Performed admirably filling in for Ryan going 1-2. However, the strong play of John Parker Wilson may force the coaching staff to re-open the backup job in the near future.
3) John Parker Wilson – Had a very good preseason, looking comfortable in the pocket and making good throws. No question a part of the Falcons future, but will he have a chance to displace Redman in a few years?
4) Michael Turner – Franchise running back looking to get back to Pro Bowl form.
5) Jason Snelling – Carried the rock and the Falcons when they needed him most, trying to break the ridiculous back-to-back winning season curse. If a choice must be made in the future, will he get the nod over Norwood?
6) Jerious Norwood – Talent and potential, potential and talent. Norwood’s looking to get back on track after an oft-injured and down year. If Mularkey can utilize him correctly, Norwood may finally realize his true potential and make the Falcons hard to stop.
7) Ovie Mughelli – One of the best run blocking fullbacks in the game. When he was out, the offense definitely sputtered.
8.) Antone Smith – A surprise pick and one that many may not agree with. The Falcons shocked fans last year by keeping Verron Haynes as a good utility back and were forced to play rotating doors with the 5th running back. Many like Dmitri Nance at this spot, but his style of play too closely resembles Turner and Snelling and Smith adds speed and is very versatile in the pass game. With Norwood’s injury history, Smith’s speed puts him over the top.
9) Roddy White – Franchise wide receiver who needs to get rid of the dropsies.
10) Michael Jenkins – Currently injured, but is reportedly rehabbing quickly and will re-take his #2 wide receiver spot.
11) Harry Douglas – The sorely missed spark the Falcons didn’t have in their passing arsenal and it looked like night and day from 2008 to 2009. Hard to believe that HD didn’t make an enormous difference. Has looked good and healthy in preseason and here’s to crossing fingers and toes he stays that way.
12) Brian Finneran – Appears to be healthy and definitely adds leadership and sure hands to the Falcons receiving corps. Likely will be starting against Pittsburgh unless Jenkins can make a quick return. If Kerry Meier doesn’t go down for the year, this may be a different conversation. Even though great when playing, Finneran adds an element of risk to an injured receiving corps (Jenkins, Douglas, and Jenkins).
13) Eric Weems – Even though he hasn’t shown much to anything in the passing attack, Weems is a very sure handed and good returner. He proved last year that he’s well above average and is a lock when compared to anyone else returning kicks and punts for the Birds.
14) Tony Gonzalez – Soon to be Hall of Fame tight end and likely the best to tight end to ever play the game
15) Justin Peele – A sure handed and more than capable backup tight end that looked good in preseason and likely has earned himself some more catches and playing time this year.
16) Michael Palmer – A possible surprise, but Palmer looked good in limited action and showed why the Falcons may have found their young tight end to develop behind Gonzalez and Peele, both of whom are over 30. Palmer beats out Keith Zinger due to his upside in the passing attack. Sadly, Colin Peek may have challenged for this spot but an early injury cut his career as a Falcons short.
17) Sam Baker – Entrenched left tackle who has a big year ahead to stay healthy and prove he deserves the job.
18) Justin Blalock – Left guard looking to realize his potential and have a big year in terms of production and must get better as an all-around offensive lineman. Due up for a possible contract year.
19) Todd McClure – One of the most underrated centers in the NFL and the undisputed leader of the OL. Still has plenty of gas left in the tank.
20) Harvey Dahl – One of the nasty boys and needs a big year for the Falcons to produce.
21) Tyson Clabo – This gigantic right tackle may be in his final season as a Falcon, but its hard to argue that any offensive lineman was better outside of Todd McClure last year.
22) Mike Johnson – 3rd round draft pick out of Alabama and has had a good camp, enough said.
23) Joe Hawley – 4th round draft pick as Dimitroff continued to build the OL for the future.
24) Garrett Reynolds – The lone offensive draft pick in Dimitroff’s second draft, Reynolds is poised to possibly take over at right tackle should Clabo leave.
25) Will Svitek – Played admirably in relief of Sam Baker at left tackle and a key backup that Dimitroff inked last off-season, particularly with Baker’s injury history.
26) Jonathan Babineaux – Was the best defensive lineman last year and arguably was robbed in not going to the Pro Bowl.
27) Peria Jerry – The 2009 first round draft pick could be the key to huge year for the Falcons defensive line and overall defense. Must stay healthy to allay fears of having too many injury issues.
28) Corey Peters – Was having a very strong camp until getting injured, but still looks to be very prominent in this years DT rotation. Could turn out to be a huge steal if his trajectory remains intact.
29) Jamaal Anderson – Although he will be listed as defensive end and will take snaps there, his new home appears to be at defensive tackle. Forgetting all the past, Anderson could turn out to be extremely valuable for the defense. Allows the Falcons to stack for depth at other positions.
30) Trey Lewis – The hardest decision to date. Lewis was working uphill in fighting for a spot and appears to have the lead for the final DT spot after having better camps than Vance Walker and Thomas Johnson. His big body will allow the Falcons some flexibility in their schemes.
31) John Abraham – Poised to have another huge year with help on the other side and extreme depth in the middle of the DL.
32) Kroy Biermann – Tough to argue that he didn’t have the best camp of any player on the roster. Whatever Coach Smith and Co. are thinking, he’s made it impossible not to be handed the open starting defensive end spot. A candidate for a huge breakout season.
33) Lawrence Sidbury Jr. – Also has had a very good camp and appears to have forced himself onto the playing field much more often in his 2nd year. Appears to be being groomed as Abraham’s eventual replacement.
34) Chauncey Davis – Some feel he may be on the block, but his versatility in being able to play multiple positions on the defensive line locks him in as a solid backup.
35) Curtis Lofton – One of the leaders of the defense finished with 133 tackles last year and is destined for great things. Wants to become more of a play-making linebacker in the mold of Patrick Willis and Ray Lewis.
36) Mike Peterson – Was thought to be a savvy veteran helping out a young linebacking corps, but as he proved against the Dolphins, he’s still got some serious gas left.
37) Stephen Nicholas – The starting strongside linebacker of 2009 had a very good first year as a starter and notched triple the amount of sacks of any other linebacker.
38) Sean Weatherspoon – The first round draft pick has had some trial by fire moments, but looks to be everything that fans thought he would be when he was the Falcons first round draft pick in April.
39) Spencer Adkins – The extremely talented Adkins surprised a lot of people when he leaped Robert James and claimed the last linebacker spot last season. An excellent special teamer who could be working himself more playing time.
40) Coy Wire – The special teams captain may have some issues in pass coverage, but is by far and away one of the best special teams players on the roster and a solid backup linebacker.
41) Thomas DeCoud – Had a magnificent first year as the starting free safety. Even though he hasn’t looked fantastic in preseason, DeCoud’s ready to capitalize on a great first year.
42) Erik Coleman – Was one of the best tackling safeties in the NFL last year and has had a very good camp, determined to hold his starting strong safety spot.
43) William Moore – Has battled through injury issues since being drafted as a Falcon in 2009, but gave fans a much needed glimpse of his amazing ability when he delivered some bone-crushing hits against the Dolphins.
44) Shann Schillinger – A surprise 6th round draft pick out of Montana has had a good camp and is poised to play a vital role on special teams. Looks to have finally taken the place as the developmental safety the Falcons have been seeking for awhile.
45) Dunta Robinson – The $57 million dollar investment hasn’t taken the field in preseason, but fans are salivating at the fact of finally having a true #1 corner.
46) Christopher Owens – Looks to be in the lead of taking the open cornerback spot opposite of Dunta Robinson.
47) Brent Grimes – Was hampered a little bit by a groin injury, but absolutely will find his way on the field even if he happens not to be named the starter, which hasn’t been ruled out. Could rival to be one of the best nickel backs in the NFL.
48) Dominique Franks – Showed fans why he was roundly considered one of the best steals of the draft in the 5th round. Could be in the lead for getting the most playing time after the top 3. Obviously won’t be returning many kicks or punts judging from preseason.
49) Chevis Jackson – Has had an up-and-down preseason, but still has talent and could definitely find some type of role in a pass heavy NFL, especially with Brees (twice), Rodgers, Flacco, and Palmer on the roster.
50) Brian Williams – Hardest decision by far. Do the Falcons keep 6 receivers, 6 defensive tackles, or 6 cornerbacks? Williams was one of the Falcons better defensive backs before his injury last season. Will add depth, veteran leadership, and could put the Falcons over the top in terms of defensive backfields if he makes a great comeback.
51) Matt Bryant – Really no words here. He’s the only kicker on the roster and is giving fans awful nightmares. Could be on his way out if a better kicker becomes available.
52) Michael Koenen – One of the best punters and kickoff specialists in the NFL. Dimitroff will have to finally pay up after this year.
53) Joe Zelenka – A much needed steady long snapper that will hopefully be a part of a good kicking game (….I said hope).
1) Brandyn Harvey (WR) – Boatloads of talent and could be in line for a spot if he has a great 4th preseason game, but appears that he’s about a year (or injury away). Could be snagged by another team.
2) Ryan Wolfe (WR) – Seems odd to keep two receivers on the practice squad, but with Jenkins, Douglas, and Finneran having possible injury issues, the Falcons will try to hold on to some young talent.
3) Jose Valdez (OG) – Has had a good camp and might could’ve shocked the world if the Falcons hadn’t drafted both Mike Johnson and Joe Hawley
4) Bear Woods (LB) – Had a promising camp, but is stuck at a position where depth is a major strength of the team.
5) Rafael Bush (DB) – Has stuck with the team throughout camp when Gabe Derricks has rotated off, back on, and back off again. A good developmental defensive player.
6) Dmitri Nance (RB) – Seemed to be ahead in the RB derby, but is too similar to Turner and Snelling. Still may actually take the last spot, but Smith’s speed seems to have him ahead.
7) Maurice Lucas (DE) Made the practice squad last year and could be in line to make the jump if any injuries beset defensive ends.
8.) Robbie Agnone (TE) – Difficult to see who makes the final couple of practice squad spots. Many players are seemingly out of practice squad eligibility (Bergeron, Walker) and this could be a spot for a rookie/undrafted free agent waiver addition. Dimitroff drafted both Palmer and Peek possibly with a spot for a TE in mind.
1) Troy Bergeron – Personally think he deserves a roster spot, but Weems special teams ability and Finneran’s veteran experience with Meier’s injury means that the Falcons will look elsewhere for depth. Could have a spot if Jenkins injury will take some time.
2) Vance Walker – The hardest call of all. Was likely the leader for the final DT spot, but a great camp by Trey Lewis means that he may be on the outside looking in. If the Falcons carry another DL, then he’s surely in.
3) Thomas Johnson – A feel good story with solid production in 2009, the drafting of Corey Peters, Trey Lewis’ big camp, and a training camp injury means that Johnson’s Falcons days are probably done.
4) Brett Romberg – His future was likely sealed when the Falcons drafted McClure’s likely eventual replacement in Joe Hawley.
-Submit your own 53 man roster and practice squad by Friday @ Noon
-Feel free to give description of each decision
-What decisions would YOU make differently than what’s expected?
-Who’s on the bubble when the final preseason games starts?
-Any major surprises in store?